It's 3am, I'm at work, I'm bored out of my skull, and I just thought I'd share something with you that has been running through my head for the last 36 hours.
Now, don't get me wrong. I don't have a crystal ball any moreso than anyone else here. But, what we do have is history, and history can give us a realistic glimpse at the present and future. For those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, yada, yada, yada...
This is a rebuilding project. And it's a rebuilding project that very closely mirrors one that I personally lived through here in Southern New England. It doesn't mirror it completely, mind you. For instance, do you remember when the Patriots were owned by James Orthwein Busch and almost became the Saint Louis Patriots? You probably don't. Successful rebuilding jobs can do wonders for a franchise and erase such memories. So can 3 Superbowl Trophies.
But there are similarities. Before Parcels (0 B.P.) , the Pats went 1-15 and 2-14 in consecutive years. After Parcels became coach (1 A.P. aka 1993), the Pats went:
It's that third year that is upon Chiefs Nation. And if history is any indication, this upcoming year will test the resolve of this fanbase.
Allow me to turn back the clock to a very vibrant memory for yours truly. It was the second year of a rebuilding job, and the Pats went 10-6 in the regular season. Granted, they did it in a slightly different way, they won their last 6 straight games. Then they faced the Cleveland Browns in the wildcard game of the playoffs. The got beat by the Browns, and it was a heartcrusher. You wouldn't believe the games you remember as a fan. You know? 6 Superbowl appearances? 3 Superbowl victories? That last Superbowl loss during the "perfect" (with an asterisk) season to the Giants?
Nope. One of the most memorable was that playoff loss in the 2nd year of the Parcels regime. It was because that season, against a relatively weak schedule, was soo exciting, provided so much hope, really showed the subtle hints of a quality team starting to come together after so long. That game, like this last one here, involved a young team playing way over their head and the carpet being pulled out from underneath their feet.
The tv football pundits had no love/respect for them, wasn't convinced they were playoff material, and by the second half, you could tell the officiating crew didn't think much of them either. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to hang with a team and shooting yourself in the foot with some untimely penalties, unfortunate turnovers, and then watching the officials polish you off and show you the door as the other team holds on nearly every play. You scream at the tv, you curse, but ultimately you see your team be retired for the season, and maybe not underservedly so.
Now don't forget this was Drew Bledsoe's second season as well. Bill Parcels chose him with the first pick in the draft over Rick Mirer.
Yes, (don't shake your head) yes, I'm going to go THERE.
Cassel may in fact be Drew Bledsoe for this franchise, and not Tom Brady. Let's face it, he never was Tom Brady, so that was a ridiculous comparison to begin with.
Drew Bledsoe was the Rock of Gibraltar, the building block, the corner stone, or the keystone of the Patriots franchise. He was the wind beneath everyone's wings. And his effort is what made the later years, the fun years, the Dynasty years, possible. He was Moses, and he never got to see the Promised Land. Just one shining moment where he got to see Desmond Howard kill his Superbowl dreams. And watch Parcels and Kraft divorce and walk out that door.
I believe that is Cassel's future as well.
Let's continue that orginial story. Year three. Year three sucks. Let me tell you, in advance even. Sucks the big one. The ante gets upped. The schedule gets dramatically harder. All of a sudden, as you watch your team get bitch slapped week after week by the big boys of the NFL, you realize that your team has made substantial progress (from Ground Zero), yes, but the team that was created last year was better than the bottom half of the league, not the top half. Now, phase two of the building process begins... build a team that can beat the top half.
How can Cassel possibly be Tom Brady? Tom Brady, and let's be honest here, for all of his talent, walked onto the set of a team that was already built to beat the top half of the league, was kept warm by Pete Carroll, and had just been taken over by the Evil Genius, Bill Belichick. It had linemen, skill position players, a great defense for Belichick to build on, loads of talent, and a solid owner to provide that stability a franchise needs. This team was loved. It just needed a little shakeup at the QB position. NOT that Bledsoe was bad, I LOVE Bledsoe. But the offense was getting stagnant, and it needed that young blood to push things along. Bledsoe came back in during the early part of the playoffs, and the team didn't miss a beat, but even then that was the influence and the swagger of the new blood taking over.
Cassel's destiny (careful what you wish for) is to have his own team in the Kansas City Chiefs. But it's going to be through the tough years, and there is no tougher year than year three. Does that mean he couldn't end up better (or worse) than Drew Bledsoe? Absolutely not. But a lot of that will depend on the offseason moves Pioli and Haley make, so that they can build a team that can take on the upper circuit of the National Football League.
I hope as a fanbase, you keep on these guys, and make sure you don't settle for anything less then their best efforts.
If you've read this far, I thank you.